Archive for the ‘Police K-9’ Category

“German Shepherd Adventures” was first published on the ubiquitous Facebook.  As my posts became longer, and more photo-centric, I moved into the wonderful world of WordPress.  I love my online home here, and I am ever so thankful that this well-run, and easy to use site exists.  WordPress you are THE BEST!!!

Recently, as Facebook has become more of a mind to make as much cash as possible, or gather as much  information about its users as possible, they are making it more and more difficult to publicize and share my blog there.  At times, I have received messages from FB stating that I am writing SPAM, and will be prevented from posting for as much as 15 days at a time.  I do NOT sell anything on “German Shepherd Adventures”, I do not espouse political or religious views, but rather, I write a very positive blog that most dog lovers seem to enjoy.  Why “German Shepherd Adventures” has suddenly been branded  as SPAM by the FB people is beyond my understanding.  I can no longer depend on them as a conduit to spread information that helps people and their dogs.  It’s apparently okay to spread other “unsavory” sites featuring puking, drunkenness, violence, and foul language, but not stories and information about German Shepherds.  So be it.

That’s why I’d like to invite as many of you as would like to Subscribe to “German Shepherd Adventures” by hitting the “Follow” button at the top of the page.  If you don’t like my posts, you don’t have to do anything.  I suspect that perhaps someone on FB has labeled “GSA” as Spam enough times to make some computer somewhere take this action.  If you don’t want to read something you disagree with, I’ve never forced you to do so.  I’ve survived other attacks on FB over training methods, and perhaps one of those knuckle-draggers has something to do with this.  I don’t know…

So, please, if you enjoy my blog, come on over and subscribe.  I promise you it will be free, and I’ll continue to do my best to entertain, enthuse, inspire, and help you out with every post!   Thanks for your support!!   Robert Vaughan


I’m not  your “New-Agey, Touchy-Feely, Transcendant Being”, kind of guy.  I like beer, beef jerky, and hunting.  I’m happiest in Wild Places miles from Cable TV, Cell-phone coverage, World News anything, and batteries.  I like eating broiled meat off the tip of my belt knife (which I may have scratched my back with only moments ago), and drinking coffee from a pot that has egg shells in it, from over an open fire.  And I love eating bacon from a cast iron skillet that also has trout merrily frying away in it.  I like chain saws, and double-bitted axes, and campfires that overlook blue water in deep, boreal forests.

With that manly and testosterone injected disclosure, I approach the subject at hand with an enthusiasm that shocks even me.  I have seen the benefits, the connections and the results of Massage for my Dogs.

Hopefully, your dog works hard, plays hard, and spends his days burning calories and fulfilling his need for activity.  Whether he is practicing  Agility, Schutzhund, Trieball, catching bad-guys, playing fetch, or shredding your $2000.00 leather sofa, he gets tired and in need of relaxation.  It’s also a great bonding between you and your dog.  That’s right, this is not about getting a massage for your dog, but about Giving your dog a massage yourself.  Strengthening the bond between you…

The Internet has a great variety of sites dedicated to Massage Therapy for Dogs…as per usual, some of them are just crazy.  Place hot rocks on a dog’s body?  Yeah that’ll be real successful.  Not that this treatment doesn’t feel GREAT to a human!  Dogs just don’t sit still for such goings-on lightly.  One other site asks you to help your dog “Meditate”.  Riiiggghhhhttt…The deepest thought on most dogs mind is, “Hey…I pooped in the middle of the yard…”    (Use THAT as a mantra!!!)

But, in the middle of all the chaff, are a couple of wheat stalks.  These are the benefits that I’ve gathered regarding Canine Massage:

Dog massage therapy promotes and improves the physical and mental health of our canine partners. This non-invasive technique of hands-on deep tissue massage can enhance the health and performance of our four-legged friends by:

  • relieving tension
  • relaxing muscle spasms
  • lengthening connective tissue
  • improving muscle tone
  • improving circulation
  • increasing flexibility
  • accelerating recovery time

I gathered this litany from a site found here.   This is a business that will do the job for you, near Point Pleasant, New Jersey.  I like this site for the tone it takes.  They treat this as a Physical treatment for pain, strength building, health, and welfare of your dog.  It’s a Doctors practice, not a voodoo hut, or Pixie-dust dispensary.  While it doesn’t teach you to do the job, it explains the benefits very nicely.

Each of my dogs react differently to massage treatments.  My 3-year-old working GSD Hans, becomes a big lump of soft-serve German Shepherd, and often ends up asleep before we finish.  On the other hand, it seems to energize our year and a half old female GSD.  We have learned that doing massage before practice or competition, fires her up!  Holly also enjoys a heating pad (set on LOW, and NEVER without supervision!!!)

My technique follows no rules that I know of from the professionals.  I just observe what the dog enjoys, and they gladly communicate too me what they enjoy.  I have however, made canine anatomy an area of intense study.  The muscles, nerves, and bone structure of the dog is important to understand, as attempting to extrapolate knowledge about YOUR own anatomy on to the dog is impossible. In other words,what feels good to you, might not be so good to your dog.  My advice is to find a good book on Anatomy, and give it more than a cursory read.  Here are a couple of  good examples that are not crazy expensive.

and, finally, a Massage Specific book:

A brief description of how I massage my dogs will be a starting point for you.  I highly recommend that you do some research for yourself, and your dog …

First, I make sure that I am calm.  This also guides the  dog to be in a calm state of mind.  I will sit in a straight-backed chair and put the dog in a Sit, facing me.  I first begin by gently stroking the dogs snout in small, circular motions with fingers only, above the upper tooth line, externally.  Take your time, and work this all the way to the top of his head until you feel a “crest” on the cranium, up the center of the skull.  At this point, begin to widen the circles outward, until you are behind the dogs ears.  Then, move forward on the skull, following the contour of the ear bases, and then down the jaw line.  Work this area, and don’t forget to rub gently around the eye-socket.  Facial massage feels good too many dogs, as long as it is slow and gentle.  Use this time to lift the jowls of the dog to inspect his teeth as well.  (While I recommend that you BRUSH YOUR DOGS TEETH daily, don’t interrupt his massage.)

Now begin working backwards towards the dogs upper neck.  Work your way in circular motions to the topline just behind the cranium.  Work your way down the neck to the upper shoulder.  Then begin working your way forward lower on the sides of the dog’s neck to the chest area.  By the time I reach this stage, my dogs are trying to lie down.  If so, allow the dog to do so.  If not, work the dog’s neck and jaw line a bit more, in a firm but very gentle manner.  Depending on his level of relaxation, it may seem that your dog wants to collapse…Success!!!  Now that your furry friend is lying down, (either side is acceptable),  give the dog long strokes down the dogs side, in the mid-line.  Go slowly!!  The idea is to straighten out the dog’s body and put the muscles in a relaxed position, as well as the skeletal frame.  Give this time to happen, say 5 minutes of gentle stroking…Then begin working forward to the dogs front chest region.  It’s okay to give the dog a fingertip scratch in this area, because they are unable to reach the area, and it feels very good to them.  Don’t dig in, but do scratch the area for 1 or 2 minutes.  Too much time spent here might cause the dog to attempt rising, so if he begins moving, move to the next area.

I now begin moving down the dogs leg structure, starting at the scapula.  Small. circular motions!!  Then I will grasp the leg in both hands and begin massaging downward towards the joint.  As I reach the joint, I will watch closely as the dog will react to any pain he may feel in the joint.  Remember: This is about communicating with the dog…IF you detect any pain in the joint, STOP!  Concentrate on holding the joint between your hands, providing warmth.  In older dogs, this is common.  Please consult your Veterinarian for chronic joint pain, or that which may come from an injury.

Now we reach my dogs favorite part:  His foot rub.  Before massaging, I will gently inspect the toes, webs, and pads for anything stuck there, or small lacerations or blisters.  Remove anything stuck to the toenails, and watch for what can be considered “Nail snags”.  I massage the feet with “Tuff-Foot” if the pads appear sensitive, or one of several other creams that treat the pad and keep them supple.

I concentrate on rubbing each toe-pad softly, and then move to the webbing between the toes, taking my time.  This usually has my 3-year-old “Hans” stretched out on the floor and doing his best cat impersonation.  If he was properly equipped, he’s PURR…

After a few moments of focusing on his feet and ankles, I’ll roll the dog onto his back and give him a brief belly scritching as a break.  This puts him into a position where its possible to inspect his underside for bug bites, lumps, lacerations, or anything out of sorts.  It’s very important to look and feel for these sorts of things for the sake of your dogs health.  Be observant, and thorough.

I finish the treatment by rubbing down the sides of the dogs spine.  Flat handed, circular motions from shoulder to base of the tail, finally checking the hips and knees of his hind quarters.  By this time, the dog is usually quite relaxed.  It takes less than 15 minutes to carry out this massage, and I have found that it provides a bond with the dog.  It also aids your Veterinarian when he or she has to examine your dog, as the dog is accustomed to physical touch, and not fearful.

Before I wrap up this post, I want it to be clear that this post is about a “Relaxing Massage”.  Before competition, or practice, I do a more aggressive warmup massage, designed to get the blood flowing.  That will be another post, allied with thoughts on getting the dog ready for strenuous activity…

For now, try developing a program of massage with your dog.  Do a little homework about where all the parts are, and get started.  You will find that this contact will deepen the relationship you have with your dog.  Start with whatever the dog will allow you to do.  Try focusing on one region at a time, perhaps the head and neck, or the feet and ankles…Whatever seems to please the dog most.

Enjoy the time together, speak calmly, and feed your dog calm soothing energy.  Try it, and see the benefits for both of you…

“After my massage, please draw my bath…”

I recently had a personal message regarding a puppys tender little paw pads, and how to care for them…It seemed perfect to address this important subject here…

Like any Platoon Sergeant worth his camo fusses over foot care of his men in the field, we should keep close watch over the paws on our GSD’s.  These dogs can be so tough that they don’t always show injury or discomfort.  That makes YOU responsible to stay alert to problems before they demand Veterinary treatment.

  • A dog’s paw is made up of thick, rough pads called the metacarpal pad and the digital pads or “Toes”.  (Item “C” below.  The central, weight-bearing pads), carpal (“D” Below.  In the wrist area) and digital (“A” below.  Which protect the “toes”). There is a claw for each of the digital pads, and some breeds also have a fifth claw near the carpal pad that may be removed when they are young to keep it from snagging on things and hurting the animal. The pads of a dog’s paw are made of fat and a very tough outer layer of skin, which is actually the toughest skin on the animal’s body. This skin helps protect against injuries and abrasions to the paw. Exocrine sweat glands (which secrete sweat into ducts that drain from the skin) are also a part of these pads.

    Canine Paws need your help!

Your dogs pads are full of very rich blood vessels that help keep his feet warm in the cold.  They are covered in very thick, tough skin, that feels very smooth when touched “with the grain” so to speak.  Rub the opposite direction though, and it can feel like an old fashioned emory board, or sandpaper.  Your dog’s feet are made for walking, but  they are also made for protecting. Pads provide extra cushioning to help protect bones and joints from shock, provide insulation against extreme weather, aid walking on rough ground and help protect tissue deep within the paw. With all that work to do, it’s no wonder your pooch’s paws often take a bit of a beating.   Here are a few tips for daily paw care that are easy to perform.  Your puppy will truly thank you!

  • Pamper With Pedicures: Your dog’s nails should just about touch the ground when she walks. If her nails are clicking or getting snagged on the floor, it’s time for a pedicure. Ask your veterinarian or a groomer for advice about what types of nail trimmers are best for your dog and how to use them properly.
  • Snip and Trim: Trim paw hair regularly to avoid painful matting. Simply comb hair out, especially from between the toes, and trim even with the pads.
  • Clean In Between: Foreign objects can become lodged in your dog’s pads. Check regularly between toes for foxtails, pebbles, small bits of broken glass and other debris. These pesky items can usually be removed with a pair of tweezers.
  • Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize: A dog’s pads can become cracked and dry. Ask your veterinarian for a good pad moisturizer and use as directed. Avoid human hand moisturizer, as this can soften the pads and lead to injury.
  • Deep Paw Massage: Similar to giving a human hand massage, a paw massage will relax your dog and promote better circulation. Start by rubbing between the pads on the bottom of the paw, and then rub between each toe. Your dog will be forever grateful for the extra TLC!
  • Slow and Steady: If you’re about to begin a new exercise program with your dog, start off slow. Paws may become sensitive, chaffed or cracked, particularly when starting your dog out on hikes and runs.
  • Apply First Aid: It’s not unusual for dogs to suffer cuts or other wounds from accidentally stepping on glass, debris or other objects. Wounds that are smaller than a half inch in diameter can be cleaned with an antibacterial wash and wrapped with a light bandage. For deeper paw cuts, see the vet for treatment.
  • Summertime Sores: Imagine stepping barefoot onto hot pavement. Ouch! It is important to remember your dog’s paws feel heat extremes, too. To prevent burns and blisters, avoid walking your dog on hot pavement or sand. Signs include blisters, loose flaps of skin and red, ulcerated patches. For minor burns, apply antibacterial wash and cover the paw with a loose bandage. For serious burns, visit your vet immediately.
  • Wintertime Blues: Winter is hard on everyone’s skin, even your dog’s! Bitter cold can cause chapping and cracking. Rock salt and chemical ice melters can cause sores, infection and blistering. Toxic chemicals can also be ingested by your dog when he licks his paws. After outdoor walks, wash your dog’s paws in warm water to rinse away salt and chemicals. You may wish to apply Vaseline, a great salt barrier, to the foot pads before each walk-or make sure your dog wears doggie booties.
  • Practice Prevention:To reduce the risk of injury, keep your home and yard clear of pointy bits and pieces. Be conscious to avoid hazards such as broken glass and other debris when walking your dog. And keep this simple tip in mind-if you wouldn’t like to walk on it barefoot, neither will your dog!

    Front paws.

    • Dogs actually walk on their toes, not on the soles of their feet. Their heels do not touch the ground, either.
        • A dog’s paw may look smooth, but the pads are actually made up of multiple small protuberances called conical papillae. These papillae can eventually be worn smooth by walking on rough surfaces such as pavement for extended periods.
        • A dog with sensitive paws is an unhappy dog. Sensitive paws interrupt a dog’s lifestyle as much as any illness or disease. An owner who cares about his dog will pay close attention to its paws. Knowing the causes of sensitive paws will help dog owners prevent the condition beforehand. Knowing how to deal with sensitive paws will help dog owners quickly and safely help their dog if the condition occurs.

Dogs are naturally shy and careful about their paws. An owner must gently handle her dog’s paws every day. This way the owner will gain the trust of the dog. Knowledge about a dog’s paws is useless unless the dog allows its paws to be handled and inspected. Consistency is crucial to gaining a dog’s trust. Not only should an owner inspect his dog’s paws every day, he should pick a specific time to do it and stick to the schedule.

Feel each of the dog’s pads and between the pads. Gently squeeze the pads, and gently squeeze each paw individually. If a paw or any part of a paw is sensitive for some reason, the dog will let you know by whining or yelping. Remain courageous and upbeat. A whine or yelp isn’t a sign that you’ve hurt the dog; it’s a sign that the dog is hurt. Pay attention to your dog as it walks and runs. Limping and tentative movements in general often point toward sensitive paws.

Common causes of paw sensitivity include walking on hot surfaces such as blacktop, walking or running too often on hard surfaces such as cement, unclipped hair between a paw’s pads that snags burs and other annoying and painful objects, and untrimmed nails.

A dog owner can do much to prevent paw sensitivity. Regularly trimming a dog’s toenails, testing blacktop with your hand on a hot day, and seeing that your dog exercises in a park or on a lawn rather than on a sidewalk are basic preventative measures. Routinely inspecting a dog’s paws will reveal if the hair has grown too long and alert you to burs or splinters.

If your dog suffers a small wound on his feet, the following care can be provided by the prepared owner:


Lay the dog  in a comfortable position that allows you to check the paw pads. Wash the paw pad with a warm wash cloth to get a better look at the size of the wound.

Put a 1/3 cup of warm water into a spray bottle along with two to three squirts of antibacterial soap. Shake up the bottle to dissolve the soap and spray the mixture on the paw to clean the wound. Rinse with warm water.

Dry the pad by gently pressing a hand towel against the paw. Don’t rub the paw because this will irritate the wound and can hurt your dog.

Apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment to the wound. Cover the wound with a bandage.  Be sure that the bandage is not to tight!  Swelling in the toes indicates too much pressure!

Change the bandage every two to three days because paw pads sweat and this moisture can slow down healing and cause infection. The wound should heal in three to four days.

A dog’s paw pads protect the joints and bones of its body by providing cushioning. Dogs use their paws all the time, putting them through all kinds of conditions. Over time, your dog’s paw pads can become injured, dry and cracked and must be treated. Dogs instinctively lick their paws when they hurt or itch but this behavior poses a threat because your dog is ingesting what is on their paws. Proper care of your dog’s paw pads can keep him healthy in more ways than one.


Check your dogs paw pads frequently for cuts, cracked skin or foreign objects that have become embedded in the skin. If the skin is cut, wash the paw gently with soap and water, dry thoroughly and dab on a little antibiotic cream such as Neosporin.

Moisturize  paw pads with a pet-safe moisturizer (do not use human lotions). Dryness and cracking are usually caused by overuse or walking on rough pavement but can also be a sign of an underlying problem such as allergies. If your dog is also licking his paws frequently and scratching his ears, suspect allergies and take him to the vet for treatment

Alternate walking locations so that your dog isn’t always on pavement. Take your dog walking in grassy areas or on dirt and try to avoid small gravel, as it can become stuck in your dog’s paw pads and cause pain and irritation. If the weather is particularly hot, don’t walk your dog on blacktop or cement because it can literally become hot enough to burn. Sand can also become too hot and can cause injuries because of its instability. If you take your dog to walk on a beach, walk him near the water’s edge, where the sand has a bit more stability and the water cools it down.

Have your dog’s nails trimmed regularly. Nails that are too long will make a clicking noise when your dog is walking and, if left untrimmed, can catch on fabric or cause gait problems. Nails that are left to grow too long also break off more easily and bleed because the vein inside the nail also grows longer without regular trimming. Get your dog used to nail trimming and paw handling early on, so that it’s easier for you or your groomer to maintain his paws and less stressful for your dog.

Wash your dog’s paws frequently, especially if he has been walking on salt-covered surfaces. If your dog is prone to allergies, washing his paws will prevent allergens from being ingested through licking and will keep them out of the house. In the winter, consider using dog boots to protect your dog’s paw pads from both the elements and salt. Your dog will probably be more open to wearing boots if you get him used to wearing them when he’s young.

Your dog can get pad burns easily–anything from walking on a hot pavement or freshly poured asphalt or by coming in contact with chemicals. Pad burns should be treated immediately to prevent further damage to the tissue. Here’s how to treat pad burns until you can get to the vet for further care.

Things You’ll Need

  • Cold water
  • Soap
  • Betadine
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Sock or gauze

If your dog’s paws get burned, immediately put his feet in cold water for at least 10 minutes. You can use a bathtub or a simple pan as long as the whole paw is submerged. If your dog refuses to keep his paw submerged, wet a washcloth and keep it pressed firmly against his paw for 10 minutes.

After the pad has soaked, gently wash the pad with soap and water or betadine. Your dog’s paw will be extra sensitive so be careful while doing this.

After you have thoroughly washed the pad, pat it dry with a towel. Do not rub the pad dry as this will only further irritate the skin.

Apply an antibiotic ointment such as neosporin to the pad. This will help it heal.

Cover the paw with a sock or gauze pads to prevent him from licking the burn.

Evaluate the pad burn. If it doesn’t look like it’s healing, take your dog to the vet.

This is my short treatise on dog paws and their care.  Thank you to the many professionals that helped me compile them!  That means you Doctor N!!!